Work

Awake at 6:30am on a Friday–work and cigarettes

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On weekdays (workdays) I generally find myself waking up every few minutes between 5:30 and when I finally roll out of bed at 7:15. Today being Friday, I should still be in bed waking only to watch the clock.

Then I thought about it. Yesterday, I didn’t punch in at work until 9am when my dad handed me the reigns on the stamps so that he could go home. I left work at 12:30 when it was obvious that the one pressman who had showed up was going to spend his time printing one (albeit huge) order of envelopes. So, at 6:30 this morning, I decided that I was going to stay home. By my calculation, if any pressmen show up, I’ll first be waiting for them to print something, then I’ll be waiting for the ink to dry, and only then will I be able to do my job.

Sure, I’ve got the filing to do. There are also 2 jobs that need to get physically moved into the warehouse (it’s kind of a 2 person job). And that, my friends, is the extent of the real work that I have waiting for me should I go to work today. Oh! And teaching my dad everything I learned whilst reading the manual on our new stamp making machine. I’m pretty sure he can teach himself, but when I call him to let him at 8 to let him know my plan, I’ll make him aware of my knowledge. Considering the most unobvious bit is removing a magnetic plate to make room for the tall cartridges, I think he’ll be fine.

For the past week I’ve been moving a lot of boxes around in the warehouse. I’ll be royally pissed if the certain bank decides to add items which are numbered in the 6100s or 6200s. I know that they will. They love doing stupid stuff like that. But, at least I’ve come up with a new system which will make adding new items easier. Since their new thing is to add items in groups at one time, we might as well put these groups together even though to the naked eye they’ll look out of order. My hope is that instead of a 6162 and a 6163 being on opposite ends of the same row (true story), with my new system in place even though the 6100s are in 3 different places, since they’re more or less broken up into groups, a picker will know at least know that they’re close.

The problem was/is that two items in number order may be vastly different from each other. For example, 6101 is a couple boxes of letterhead for a branch and 6102 is 10 cases of envelopes for that branch. They cannot be on the shelf next to each other because they need 2 vastly different sized shelves! When the warehouse and numbering system was originally designed, letterhead was given first set of 2 digits and envelopes another and they were found on different sections of shelving. Then someone had the bright idea that envelopes and letterhead usually go out together, so to make pulling easier, they should be next to each other, which physically will not work. THEN, to make matters even more fun, they’ve started using numbers that haven’t been used yet even though they fall right into the middle of any already cramped shelf. This is how the 6162 and 6163 got separated–they got tucked in wherever there was space available. And it’s all done by people who have been in our warehouse multiple times a year to do their inventory. That’s as brilliant as the lady who orders 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 boxes of paper towels (usually 4) even though we’ve told her repeatedly that they come from the factory in cases of 30 rolls and that to be nice to us  she should order 3 boxes (1 box is 10 rolls) at a time. At least the ones who on occasion order 10 boxes thinking they’re ordering 10 rolls are quickly educated.

Anyway, being stressed about work and my ever suckier looking paycheck is only half of what’s keeping me awake. I stole BF’s cigarettes again Wednesday evening. Before our trip, I’d been rationing him to 4 per day. During the trip, he was supposed to limit himself to 2 new packs plus whatever he had left over from before. He didn’t last 4 hours on the road after he ran out and he bought himself a new pack when we stopped for a bathroom break in Kansas. For whatever reason, after we got back I didn’t start rationing him again. Oh, that’s right. He’d started taking Chantix again and since he made grand claims about how he’d almost quit the first time with it (a doctor’s appointment had made him quit taking it), I figured he could wean himself down. It didn’t work. So, I’ve take them again and this time, I’ve decided that there will be no rationing. He’s not getting them from me anymore and if I see him with another pack, I’ll take it away too.

I was stressed all day yesterday because I was sure that after I’d gone to bed Wednesday night he’d gone somewhere and bought himself a new pack. But when I got home and asked him about it, he said that he hadn’t, but that he had gotten one cigarette from a friend (I really need to beat up his friends). We didn’t discuss this new situation, but his mood is relatively good so far. I fear that  he’s hiding something. He’s very good at playing with semantics to make sure that he’s always in the right, but he’s also someone extremely horrible at hiding his activities–he used to leave his cigarette butts in front of my car’s tires where they couldn’t possibly have been the afternoon before or I would have run them over when I backed into my spot! This being a double no-no because I’ve told him that my biggest pet peeve is cigarette butt litter.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. It doesn’t help matters when the subject is taboo because talking about it makes him want one.

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It takes a special kind of stupid…a work story.

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So, ya’ll may remember that I work in a print shop. We happen to do a lot of printing for a “certain bank” (which shall always remain nameless). There is also the “other bank” that we also do printing for. In both cases we store their stuff in our warehouse (in the case of the “certain bank”, we also store tons of their “crap”–paper towels, cups and lids, knives, forks, spoons, toilet paper, Fabreeze, Clorox wipes, etc, etc, ETC).

Well, yesterday we got word that they wanted to print a letter on some letterhead we already had printed in the warehouse then deliver it and an envelope (also from the warehouse) to a mailing house. It’s a simple enough request, not that that matters.

So, I went into the warehouse and pulled the envelopes and letterhead, taking the letterhead to a table near the press where the letter will be added. The pressman came back from lunch and started running the job. Then I hear this:

“Hey, can you bring me 3 more boxes of the letterheads? I printed the letter on the back.”

Me: “Uhh…what?”

Yep…somehow he’d printed 1300 letters on the back of the letterhead. The letterhead has a rather large logo at the top and the return address at the bottom. When he opened the boxes of letterhead, he would have been looking directly at said printed stuff.

Did he honestly think that the letter went on the blank side of the paper? I have no clue.

Did he load the paper wrong? While possible, he has way too much experience for that. And why would it have taken him so long to catch the mistake?

Why didn’t the production manager, who I was told “okayed” the job that way, catch it?

I am still baffled by this idiotic mistake.

Idea Bank #105: “I could run this place better than him/her!” Write about a job you had (where you couldn’t stand your boss.)

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First off, I added the parenthesis to the title because I don’t have a huge problem with my boss, even though I do 50% of his work. He deals with a lot of the stuff that I never want to have to deal with and the things that I don’t like him to do, well, it’s my duty to stand up to him, which proved easy this past week.

I work in a print shop. My formal job is bindery, which is everything after a job is printed. My informal job is everything else. We have a production manager who is supposed to manage every job as it comes through production but more often than not it’s my job to make sure that things get done in a timely manner with or without the PM actually telling me that a job has to go out TODAY. It means sticking my nose in a lot of people’s (well, 4) business as I read job tickets before they officially make it to bindery. The worst part of this very unofficial job is that I often have to manage my immediate coworker who is 62 years old and has worked there for at least 5 years and maybe 10+.

There’s a rumor floating around that they’re going to hire a “girl who knows how to run all the equipment” and fire someone. My 62 year old coworker is certain it will be her even though her sister owns the company or if she isn’t let go, then she hopes that whomever it is “doesn’t try to boss her around”. This is my problem because I have the very subtle job of excelling at bossing her around without her knowing that I’m bossing her around. If she suspects I’m trying to tell her what to do she get’s very bitchy even though everything I do is to ensure that she has plenty of work without it being too much work (there’s a fine line). I also have to make sure that it’s the right kind of work because her work quality is questionable these days. We had a spiral bound book which was sent back because the spirals looked like crap (the way the ends were clipped). We’d both worked on it, but I had a regular pair of dikes while she had the proper special pair of pliers that bends the coil nicely before it clips.

She apparently doesn’t know how to use the special pliers and that’s why her ends looked like crap. I’ve known that she can put out some ugly looking coils, so usually I clip them for her while she’s busy “spinning the spirals” by hand (not always necessary because we have rollers that will spin 50% of the books we make, but she won’t use it). She’ll thank me then. Part of me wishes I could have snuck in an looked at her spirals before they left the shop, but for this book I’d been on the front desk (our receptionist was on vacation for 3 days) spinning spirals as I answered the phones. Usually my coworker won’t touch a job I’m working on unless she’s desperate so I was taking only a handful at a time to the front desk to work on them so that I’d have a reason to check out the production area instead of just vegging out at the desk (I was supposed to be there when I wasn’t needed in the back, though I try to only sit at the desk when I have valid work to do there since it isn’t a dire necessity that someone sit at the desk at all times when the receptionist is away). Anyway, this was my 2nd day after being on vacation myself so I was still trying to regain the rhythm. I thought she had enough work to leave my books alone, but I apparently misjudged. It was impossible for me to go behind her work before that job left the shop (she took care of the shrinkwrapping and packaging as well). Our actual Production Manager should have looked over her shoulder and seen the problem, but he often neglects such things. I feel uncomfortable “ratting” my coworkers out for stuff like this because it isn’t officially my job to be quality control. It’s one thing to tell the PM that a job is too short to claim otherwise because we’ll all blame the presses.

This isn’t our press–it’s way too shiny!

My coworker is both very narrowly focused and a multitasker (depending on her mood) and I’ve yet to figure out when she will be which. If I think she’s going to put all her attention on one job regardless of the fact that she’ll have to move in slow motion to do so, she’ll suddenly be able to stop one job to work on another (this is usually when there’s only enough work for us both if she works in slow motion–maybe she is paying attention to the work load?). It we really need her to stop what she’s doing and get another job done, she’ll spend the next 6 hours (or longer) complaining that she hates getting pulled from one job to another. This happened a couple months ago when we were swamped. My dad had to die-cut 16,000 tabs (it took like 3 days), which meant I needed to pull the certain bank’s releases from the warehouse so that he could die-cut before he took the delivery (he runs an old Heidelberg Windmill Press for numbering, die-cutting, and some printing; he’s also the main delivery driver, rubber stamp maker, warehouse executive, and general know it all because he’s worked for the company for as long or longer than the current owner). While I was pulling the releases, my coworker was told that she had to get on a monster amount of time cards (counting and boxing) even though she was in the middle of something else. She actually had the nerve to say that “[my dad] should be doing his work so that [I] could do [my] work”–at least the PM was there to quickly set her straight though she was grumpy for the next 2 days (she often leaves work relatively early and that day she left as soon as we got the partial shipment of time cards together since there were too many for one person to count and box in the time frame we had).

Anyway, to illustrate the primary way I dictate her work life, I had lots of options on Friday of what jobs I could do. If I was stingy, I would have finished shrinkwrapping some teller receipts for the other bank (we doing printing for and warehouse for 2 different banks). But since I knew my coworker would need work before I got there on Monday morning, I cut down an NCR job and set it up so that she’d have options (I didn’t get the receipts finished). By doing things this way, I ensured that we’d both have work Monday rather than her puttering around until I got there. Because for her, it doesn’t matter if there’s a ton of work in the shop if she doesn’t realize it exists. She rarely investigates or cares what’s coming down the pipe.

I know the PM would fire her, but since she’s the owner’s sister, that will probably never happen. Generally speaking, I like working with her (when she’s in a good mood, which is only 80% of the time). I like the challenge of figuring out which order to do which job so that we both have the maximum amount of work between us at any given time. Usually the only “bossing” I have to do in these situations is that by putting the jobs in front of her in the order that I want them done, she’ll usually do them in this order. It gets awkward when suddenly there’s a rush job and I have to figure out how to tell her that we both need to get on this. I can tell her that I need half of the padding table for a rush job without a problem, but getting it so that she understands that we both need to be padding the job, that’s a different story. Luckily it turned out that job wasn’t as insanely rush as I’d been led to believe, though it’d be a heck of a lot easier if PM were to tell her to rush a job instead of him telling me and expecting me to make sure it gets done ASAP when both of us are necessary.

This past week, one of the pressmen (who has a tendency to put out messy work when it’s not insanely overprinted) was having trouble with an envelope. He’d left the envelopes in haphazard stacks and expected me or my coworker (which usually means me as it was in this case even though I was upstairs at my computer doing (not vital) paperwork) to count them. The first thing I asked him was “how many did you run?” and he was all like “I don’t know! Most are in the trash!” Ugh. In case you’re wondering, I meant how many envelopes did he take out of the box before the were printed and thus went into the press. I knew most had ended up in the trash and that a lot of what didn’t weren’t good, but I still need to know where we started at! He finally said there’d been 2000 which is good because the customer ordered 1000 and I counted a bare 700. As I started counting my first 100, the PM said to just split them into 10 piles, which I don’t like because it’s cheating and he’s been caught by customers plenty of times when they call to complain that their job is short. When someone has 900 letters to send out so they order 1000 envelopes, they shouldn’t end up with more names than envelopes! But as he’s the one who has to deal with the stress of customer complaints like that, depending on how short a job is, I might stretch it even though it rankles my ethics. But I like to know how far I’m stretching a job before I do it, so I count first.

When I ended up at 700 I knew I couldn’t stretch it any further so I told the PM. The pressman had told him that with the problems he’d had he’d needed more envelopes but I guess PM said he wouldn’t order them. When I told PM that the envelopes were too short, he said to ship the 700 and write that we owed them the 300. Yes, his story changes like this often which annoys the pressmen and this pressman asked me what I had hanging over PM for him to order more envelopes (and earlier that week labels). I told him that I believed it was because there are times when I will decide for myself whether I will send out a job short or not and I don’t care what he says (it’s easy: I mark the delivery ticket as short (just the facts, no promises), mark the job ticket, and put it into billing if it’s within the standard 10% or put it on PM’s desk if it’s something that does need to go back on the press before the customer calls wondering if they’ll get the rest). So long as the customer knows a job is short, I don’t mind sending it that way (they only pay for what they receive) and sometimes they’ve called and told us not to bother with the second shipment because they can always reorder later. What’s awkward with this job and why I’m desperately hoping that the second press-run goes smoothly is that this customer had ordered 500 of the same envelope with different printing and that case had been at least as heavy as the 700 I’d counted; meaning he’d ran a lot of extras and included them in the box without marking the overrun. This is fine–I love tossing overrun into the shipment and giving it the customer for free if it’s not too much (again the +/-10%), but my one hard and fast rule is that when a customer gets two different but similar jobs, the quantities had better be the same/proportional!

Customers aren’t stupid, though when you send a lot of uncredited overrun along with an exact quantity they do get confused. I once made the mistake of putting an un-numbered sample on the outside of a box and the customer called to ask for the job to be picked up and numbered. I happened to be standing right next to the customer sales rep when she got this call and I told her to tell the woman to actually open the box because I’d literally finished that job an hour earlier. My poor dad was making a delivery to another company when he heard their receptionist mumble about throwing away “the duplicate numbers”. He didn’t say anything, but the next day that company called to say that we’d shorted them 100 numbered invoices. We don’t send any duplicate numbers as a rule, but how do you tell a customer that their receptionist threw away good invoices because she didn’t read the boxes correctly? Luckily we keep some of their invoices on our “extras” shelf, so the cost of re-doing those numbers for free wasn’t as high as it could have been.

Anyway, I’m obviously starting to digress. You can see that our shop could do with having a more attentive Production Manager. I do what I can to help the shop run as smoothly as possible, but when all my official labels put me at the bottom of the totem pole, it’s difficult to step on the toes that need to be stepped on. It’s hard to be the unofficial assistant production manager when there are people who either don’t want to be managed at all (even though they’re the ones who need the most management) or think that they should be management (even though that pressman has committed way too many mathematical errors (he’s printed 4 times the quantity ordered on at least 4 occasions) and generally would put out better work if he’d simply clean his press and wash his hands more often among a few other things).

By the way, on the rumor of them hiring a new girl. The official story is that it will be a new sales girl, which we do need. If she knows the printing business already this would be a bonus. If she is going to be added to production and we lose someone, I hope she’s a presswoman. I swear our pressmen spend more time smoking, bickering with each other and simply walking around scratching their butts than they do actually printing stuff. This wouldn’t be an issue if they weren’t fighting their presses at the same time (one more than the other).